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Leapbeer Reviews Pyramid Thunderbird vs Outburst – The IPA vs IIPA debate

I’ve had several iterations of the India pale ale on the blog so far. I’ve had the original style IPA, like the Wells IPA. I’ve had American style IPA’s & Double or Imperial IPA’s. When I bought these two bombers I fully intended to try them back to back to give an honest comparison between the two styles. I gave you the lesson on what makes an India portion of the India Pale Ale in my trip to india pale ale. These two beers fall under the category of an American IPA or American IIPA.

First up is the Thunderhead IPA. Beeradvocate had this to say about the American IPA style.

“The American IPA is a different soul from the reincarnated IPA style. More flavorful than the withering English IPA, color can range from very pale golden to reddish amber. Hops are typically American with a big herbal and / or citric character, bitterness is high as well. Moderate to medium bodied with a balancing malt backbone.
Average alcohol by volume (abv) range: 5.5-7.5%”

My thoughts: This is a pleasant looking clear amber coloured beer. Nice tiny bubbles in the carbonation. The head dissipated really quickly. It smells very malty, and faintly of citrus or candied orange. This tastes very good, as it has a nice bitter to it. I guessed the IBU’s in the 60/70 range (Rated at 67 on their site). It has a nice malt body to it, and very good balance between the bitter and sweet. The finish to this beer is very clean and quick. In my opinion this is a good american IPA, just not your sledgehammer of hops.

Leapbeer #223 is Thuderhead IPA by Pyramid Brewing

BreweryPyramid Brewery of Seattle WA, Portland OR & Berkley CA
Released:
Regularly Produced
Size/ABV/IBU:
650ml Bottle/6.7% ABV/67 IBU
Availability
Year Round
Purchased @:
Top Shelf Liquor Store in Courtenay BC
Website:
http://www.pyramidbrew.com/our-brews/thunderhead

Next we move on to the Outburst Imperial IPA. As I have already mentioned the Imperial or Double IPA is the same animal. Here’s what Beeradvocate had to say about IIPA/DIPA’s.

Take an India Pale Ale and feed it steroids, ergo the term Double IPA. Although open to the same interpretation as its sister styles, you should expect something robust, malty, alcoholic and with a hop profile that might rip your tongue out. The Imperial usage comes from Russian Imperial stout, a style of strong stout originally brewed in England for the Russian Imperial Court of the late 1700s; though Double IPA is often the preferred name. You can thank west coast American brewers for this somewhat reactionary style. “Thanks!”
Average alcohol by volume (abv) range: 7.0-14.0%

My thoughts: It says dry hopped on the label, and indeed it smells as you would expect. Super citrus punch and tropical fruit hits your nose. This is your typical pacific northwest ipa. If you look closer at the labels of these two beers the hops blossom is everywhere on the Outburst. It is the trees, even the sun. That said this beer has a very nice malt body, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a whole lotta hop’in going on in there. I’m not certain which hops variants were used in this beer, but you get the cascade and citra feel. (Reaseach shows that its brewed with Nugget, Chinook & Cascade/CTZ then Dry Hopped with Falconer’s Flight & Zythos)  The beer is a much deeper colour than the thunderhead with a frothy white head on top. Almost tastes like a different recipe than the thunderhead. I am a sucker for heavily hopped beer, but they need to have balance to them, this one has that and more. It is definitely my fave of the two. This really is a hops hammer banging on the anvil of hops. After a little digging on their website I find that this is indeed a very different recipe than the Thunderhead. I’m glad to see that my tastebuds haven’t been completely trampled by the hops hammers.

Leapbeer #224 is Outburst Imperial IPA by Pyramid Brewing

Brewery: Pyramid Brewery of Seattle WA, Portland OR & Berkley CA
Released: Regularly Produced
Size/ABV/IBU: 650ml Bottle/8.5% ABV/80 IBU
Availability: Year Round
Purchased @: Top Shelf Liquor Store in Courtenay BC
Website:
 http://www.pyramidbrew.com/our-brews/outburst

So my clear winner was the Imperial IPA, because I am a often admitted hop head. If you’re not a fan of beers with some pucker then you may need something different. But to me it isn’t all about the hop bitterness. I like it when a beer shows balance between the malts and hops, which both of these beers do well. Some may argue that the uber-hopped monstrosities out there with there higher ABV ratings just lead people to get IPA’d (I’m Pissed Again) to quickly. But now there’s the India Session Ale out there for those who want all of the hop nose, with less of the butt kicking alcohol behind it. (Traditionally session ales are between 3.5-4.5% ABV). Look forward to hearing more about them in the future as I have one sitting in the leapbeer fridge just waiting to be drank.

One other side note that made me geek out a bit about these beers is the weather theme to their names. One of my tasks at my day job is weather observing, and I’ve always considered myself a weather weenie of sorts. I even have a photo album dedicated to weather phenomena I’ve seen over the years (I can hear you calling me a nerd from here). Both of these names are of weather origin. The Thunderhead is another name for a typical thunder cloud, also known as Cumulonimbus.  An outburst is part of a dangerous phenomena called a Microburst, where a thundercloud has a jet of air that shoots out from below it. If you want to know more about either of these phenomena their names are tagged with links to their respective Wikipedia pages.

Thanks for reading

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3 thoughts on “Leapbeer Reviews Pyramid Thunderbird vs Outburst – The IPA vs IIPA debate

  1. Very interesting read. Suprised the IBU is only 80 for that beer though. The real kicks are in the high 90s and 100s

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